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I’ve been into training relatively hard on hills lately and I can only see it getting better as I’m getting stronger. For the past two weeks or so, I’ve been thinking of the best way to simulate a portion of Leadville 100 (the one that has something like a 4500′ increase in elevation in about 4 miles or so). Given that all the treadmills on campus only go up to 15%, I decided that this was my only option. So after warming up a bit (10 minutes), I decided it was time to bring it on.

I increased the incline to 15% and kept it there for the remainder of the hour (50 minutes). I did several things at this incline. Going into it, I was thinking I will just speed-walk the entire hour. Yeah, right. I was feeling too good. So I cranked up the speed to about 4.5 and ran it for a half mile. Then I brought up back down to a brisk walking pace–between 3.4-3.5 pace. Did that for about 3/10 mile or so then back up to the run. This continued on for a bit until I remembered not to injure myself by going too much in one workout. Then I slowed it down a bit by walking a bit more than running, but still pushing for something definitely over 2000 ft in elevation.

When it was all said and done I had gained 2600 feet of elevation in this 50 minute workout. The mileage in this time was about 3.5 miles. So it appears that you cannot simulate the portion of Leadville with the mad incline. However, you can get close and the workout itself isn’t so bad. Once I get stronger, I’ll run more of it. But for now, I’ll workout out smartly and not get myself injured in the process.

And as a side note: I wore my Drymax Maximum Protection socks for this workout and they worked like a charm. I was sweating pretty profusely, but these socks kept my feet dry and feeling comfortable the entire time. These socks are the real-deal. These guys even offer a money back guarantee that this sock will keep your feet drier than any other sock. That kind of guarantee is just unheard of. I gladly stand behind this sock and will recommend it to anyone looking for a sock that will finally get the job done.

I think it’s easy for people (primarily trail runners; and to be fair, I suppose road runners as well) to take for granted the condition they’re in.  As someone who is a runner, today I was able to step back for a moment and assess where I am and where I’m headed.  It wasn’t a revelation by any means, but it just opened my eyes and helped me focus more on my goals.

Today we had a new runner join our Saturday morning Clinton Lake runs.  He’s sorta a runner (meaning he’s not hardcore who runs 50+ miles a week, or anywhere near that number as far as I know), but doesn’t have a lot of trail experience.  He’s got some, but it’s just not extensive.  So today’s group of people didn’t really split up as much as I thought we would have, and therefore we sorta all ran together.  I don’t mind this type of running because I take it to be my endurance days (easy pace but long distances).  I wasn’t sure what today’s mileage would be because I sometimes like to play it by ear and see who’s going what distance.  So today’s magic number was 15.  I was tempted by Mark’s offer for 23 (one loop), but I had the car key and I knew Lisa was only doing 15 so I didn’t wanna keep her waiting out in the brisk weather this morning.

Anyway, the new guy seemed to be working out well for the first 6 miles or so.  He said felt strong/good and had a tiny blister start forming on his small toe.  He stretched out at Land’s End, we briefly discussed whether he wanted to continue with us (15M) or head back.  He said he was fine so he proceeded to run with us.  Initially, he felt good and then slowly started falling behind at some point.  At what point exactly I don’t know because Mark, James, and I sped up and left everyone else behind.  At the turn-around point for the 15 and full loop we decided to stop and slowly walk the blue trail hoping the other will catch up.  They finally did and the new dude seemed to be working out just fine (at this point I think the mileage was something like 10 miles).  When I reached Land’s End I noticed he was the last to come up.  Again, I didn’t think anything of it because this could be due to many things.

We usually break at Land’s End but for some reason we didn’t really stop and continued onward.  A few minutes into the continuation, I noticed the new guy is nowhere to be seen.  “Where’s the dude?” I ask.  “He’s back there walking.”  Oh boy.  Don’t freeze up on me now, boy.  We kept on and I kept checking back for him.  Still walking.  “He’s got no water,” someone says.  Crapola.  That’s right.  Food?  Nope.  Oh well.  I waited up for him and decided he needed water so I gave him some Nuun and a Hammer Gel.  The dude was completely beaten up.  His legs were shot to hell.  He was claiming pains in his knees, groin, and thigh.  12 or so miles into this and he’s wasted.  Completely spent.  He was barely walking properly.  So what do you do in this type of situation, especially when they’ve never been on the trail?  You walk with them and make sure they make it back safely.  But I didn’t mind because Lisa was far behind us at this point so I knew she would eventually catch up to us.  She did, at about 14.5 mile so she joined us on the remainder of the walk.

So my point is this: even though it may appear we just go for a light run on the trails, it’s not as easy as it seems.  But I can see how it would appear that way to someone.  “Oh, they’re not going that fast.  I’ve never done even 10 miles, but this pace is easy.  I can do this easily.”  Look, if you’re body is not using to being beat up in this manner, you’re gonna suffer.  And, as today showed me, suffer hard.  No questions asked.  It’s something that you have to ease in to.  If it were that easy, we’d all be out there running an “easy” 50 miler.  But that doesn’t work that way.  I agree that just about anyone willing can run 50 miles, but some will be hurting more than others.  Now, 100 is a different story.  I believe that takes some running ability.  But this is a different issue all together.

After a brief recent email, he is indeed suffering.  Poor guy.  But maybe not so poor since he made a poor decision to run that far when his body is not used to such distances.

Maybe next time, friend.  Don’t be discouraged.  🙂

Stay strong,
Mircea

Like many others, I sometimes get frustrated at the amount of time I actually have to run.  Now, When I actually sit and reread that sentence, it reminds me that I’m being a baby.  If I really wanted to, I can be at the gym at 5:15 a.m. when it opens.  But do I?  No.  At the moment I say it’s because it’s too cold outside in the a.m. hours, especially that early.  But I’m not sure how much I believe that excuse.

I don’t really have a specific time I need to be in the lab, but I prefer being there by 9 a.m.  And by going through my morning routine, I figure that a gym time of 6:30 or 7 a.m. is way too late.  I never run any time shorter than 1 hour (this is my rule and it just seems to work better for my body).  Add in some stretches before and after the run and we’re looking at probably 1:20:00 at least.  Let’s forget about seeing someone I know and shooting the breeze with them for a moment!  That’s outta the question, especially if I’m on a tight schedule.  If that does happen, add another 10 minutes.  1:30:00.  I live about 8 minutes or so from the gym when there’s NO traffic (and in the a.m. hours on campus you can forget about no traffic).  So add another 12-15 minutes getting back home.  1:42:00-1:45:00.  See, without eating and showering we’re already at 8:45 a.m.  When I sat down and figured this out a few weeks ago, I think the time which is somewhat comfortable is no later than 6 a.m.  I completely realize that this seems silly since I only run one hour (more or less–there are days when I feel like more, but let’s assume the average morning is 1 hour) and want to be in the lab by 9!  Believe me, I totally realize this.  But when you sit down and do the math, it works against me, as I’ve demonstrated above.

So the point is I’m stuck, at the moment, with running only once a day.  The plan is twice–once in the morning and again in the evening–but it seems to be quickly fading away.  And the primary reason can be summed up in one word: thesis.  For those who don’t know, I’m trying to defend in May, and in order for that to happen, I’ve got a lot of work to do.  Unfortunately.  But I don’t think it will ever get to the point where I’m not running at all, so I’m happy for that.  None of this has changed the fact that I’m working hard on hill workouts.  They’re done on treadmills, but I think treadmills are brilliant in this way.  Need hills?  Hit the treadmill for one hour or longer between 7% and 15% incline.  Then hit the trails.  See the difference in power and endurance.

I’m trying to stay positive about training time.  I’m sure it’ll all work out.  🙂

I’m just wondering if anyone has any input for me on a pair of Vasque Blur SL’s.  I ask because these are the pair that I won at a raffle after the race Saturday and have been wondering if I should (reluctantly!) give them a try.  I still think Salomon XT Wings cannot be touched, but that’s my preference for my foot and my style of running (and also my limited experience with different types of shoes).  So I don’t mean to dog on anyones shoes, seriously.  🙂  Even better would be if you have experience with both shoes and can tell me the biggest difference between the two.

So any input, or even advice on what I should do, would be awesome and greatly appreciated.  After all, they are a free pair of shoes, regardless of which I get.

Thanks in advance to anyone who decides to chime in.

–MS

So let me start by giving news that’s not so surprising: I finished the 10 mile race I had sign up to do.  That’s a no-brainer.  But, the 1:33:00 I had planned on did not pan out.  I was 9 minutes off.  I finally came in at 1:42:40 (the exact seconds may be off by a few; I don’t remember).  But I’m not so down on myself because this was my first race after all and this was only the second time I’ve run the course.  So overall, this was a good performance for me.  Let’s also keep in mind that I’ve only been seriously running trails for one month.  1:33:00 was a high goal to set and meet, but that’s how I operate.  I set very high standards for myself and train hard to obtain that goal, but if it doesn’t happen, it’s totally not the end of the world.  And only being off my 9 minutes is good, too.  Again, I’m happy with myself and my performance.  Now I’m focusing on training hard for the 50-miler in April, then three weeks later a 40-miler.  I’ve gotten my feet wet with an easy 10 and now it’s time to get serious.  A 100-miler is coming either by the end of summer or Fall (more on this topic, in general, coming soon).

As far as an actual race report, I don’t have anything much to say about a 10M race.  It’s short.  🙂  The conditions for one loop were perfect because it was in the low 20’s so the mud was a bit frozen (frozen enough that it wasn’t bad and slowing you down).  Some snow on the ground but nothing to hinder your runs.  The thing I was afraid of from the start was my line to my bladder freezing up.  Fortunately I was drinking often enough that this wasn’t an issue.  
I started out really easy and was towards the back.  People were crackin’ jokes and we’d laugh a bit, but once on the trail, this sort of diminished.  People weren’t out-right serious, but there wasn’t much of that going on, especially once the hills came.  Slowly I passed one person after another.  Next thing I knew, I was really up there.  There was a point where I couldn’t even see anyone in front of me.  I felt like Superman today.  No joke.  I was strong as an ox.  I can only wish that every race was like this.  Could I have pushed harder and done my 1:33:00?  Who knows and who cares?  What’s done is done and I ran my race and that’s all that’s important.  I’m not worried about could-have-beens.  Those are for the birds.  🙂  I just never came to a point where I was thinking, “Damn…I’ve gotta slow it down or I’ll hit a wall.”  
One thing I have learned, however, is that I’m really good at downhills.  I kill in downhills.  I have enough leg strength that I can control myself going down a steep hill at extreme speeds.  I mention this because I noticed many people are not this way.  I always assumed everyone was awesome on downhills (to me, I think, ‘how can you not be?‘).  But now I know this is not as normal as I thought it was.  
Coming to open fields was another time for me to attack.  I passed many people this way.  Uphills, too.  People walked most of the uphills, especially the steeper ones.  I kept pushing through, though at a much slower pace, of course.  
Afterwards was an awesome time, as well.  I spoke to a few guys that I passed (they remembered me, not the other way around).  We had a crap-load of food and drink, and there was even a raffle that I killed as well!!  I won a pair of shoes!!!  Ha!  They’re Vasque, but the guy saw I wore Salomon XT Wings and said I could possibly get a pair of them instead.  I was like, “Hell yeah, brother.”  I’m actually in the market for another pair because they’re so awesome!  I love those shoes.  Then I won again!  A visor, which I gave to Lisa.  Nick, who we were hanging out with, also won a fanny bottle pack which he exchanged with Lisa for the visor.  He said he had more use for it than the pack, since he already had one.  🙂  Good lookin’ out, Nick!  So we all came out a winner.  
Anyway, I’ve got some photos but I’ll post those later.  I don’t have many, but I have two of Lisa finishing in 2:04:xx!!!!  I was so impressed that I wasn’t believing what I was seeing even as I was watching it and processing what was happening!  It was truly amazing.  I was thining she’ll get in around 2:15:00-2:20:00 or so.  She was shooting for a sub-2 finish, but four minutes off is nothing to be ashamed of at all!!  That was an amazing finish, Lisa.  No joke.  And this was her first race as well.  So we both kicked ass!  🙂
So that’s my first race report.  Overall I was 10th in my age group and 25th overall.  Not bad for the first time.  Hey, I’m happy and focusing on the next objective.  🙂
Stay strong,
Mircea

Tomorrow is my first running race.  The only other race I partook in was during my cycling days back in 2001 in Cali.  So this is pretty exciting for me.  

To be honest, I thought I’d be a bit more nervous about “a race,” but I feel pretty calm about it.  Maybe it’s because I’m only doing 10 miles.  But to be honest, I try not to think “Oh, this is only 10 miles so I really don’t care about it as much as if I were running a 50K or longer.”  I’m a pretty fair person and try to treat everything equally.  So when I am ready for my 50-miler in a few months, I’m gonna train for that as hard as I trained for this one.  I try not to train for the distance (since I train many miles per week anyway), but train for strength and endurance.  Besides, I really don’t train in miles, but in hours.  I keep track of my miles, but I’m not as concerned about them as I am of my hours of training.
Or maybe my calmness is the fact that I ran the course last Saturday so I’m slightly familiar with it.  Dunno.  Either way, I feel confident and ready.  I’m just gonna go out there and run my race.  I’m gonna *try* and not care what goes on around me.  I primarily need to listen to my body.  My only concern is that I will push harder than I should be pushing for personal reasons, but since I’m aware of it I can possibly control it.
I suppose I’ll post a race report, but I’ll see if it’s worth it.  Ah, what the hell.  I’ll post something tomorrow.  Again, it’s my first race!  So there must be something to say.  Oh, and Lisa is bringing the camera so I think I’ll post some photos!

So there’s exactly one week until the Psycho WyCo 10 mile race. Having never been out there, I didn’t know what to expect. Sure, I heard a crap-load of stories about that trail, but everyone is different and “hard” is also different for everyone (unless we’re talking about “hard” races that have been defined as hard by damn near every person who has run it, e.g., HURT 100). So, naturally, I had to run it today (one loop, 10 miles) just to taste the trail for the first time. I don’t need to run hard my first time out, but I do need to taste the trail and know what I’m in for. This makes the visualization process that will happen this week that much easier for me. So here are some of my thoughts on it.

  • WyCo is not Clinton Lake, but I also wouldn’t agree with something I’ve heard, namely, “Running 10 at WyCo is roughly equivalent to running 20 at Clinton.”  Huh?  What the hell does that mean, or what is it supposed to mean?  Completely untrue.  Sure, there are comparatively longer and steeper hills, but, personally, I did not feel any more exhausted (or just “different,” for that matter) after 10 miles than I would have if I ran at Clinton this morning.  Moreover, the course is much more technical than Clinton so that will wear more people out when combined with the hills.  But to say that 20CL = 10WyCo is a complete misrepresentation.
  • Ahhh, the (infamous) hills everyone has been referring to.  They’re nice hills, I can tell you that for sure.  Some are even pretty steep (the very small ones are; you know, those annoying very short hills that are just there to be an obstacle because of their steepness).  But in general, I would say this course, and its hills, is “normal” (by what standard? I’m not sure, but let’s think of a course that has “decent” hills and say something like that is “normal”).  There is a hill that is the steepest of all which happens at the end, maybe a few miles from the 10 mile mark, that is relatively “mean,” but nothing like, Oh my goodness!  How will I ever continuously run up that hill?  Not even close.  But it’s a nice hill and I give it the props it deserves, no doubt about it.
  • The muddiness.  All I ever heard about was all this mud that can accumulate at WyCo.  Guess what?  That was not a lie.  The place was pretty damn muddy in spots and I have my shoes as proof.  And I would say that today wasn’t as bad as it could be.  I’d hate to see those spots when it’s really muddy!  Good God.  I wouldn’t even wanna think about that, let alone having to run through it.  Let me just say that today in some spots, my foot sank deep enough that when I went to pull it out in mid-run, I can feel a pretty hard tug on my shoe.  Since I’m inexperienced, to me that was pretty hardcore mud.  Again, imagine it muddier.  Forget it.  I wouldn’t wuss out on running it, but I wouldn’t be happy about it.
Overall it was a nice run with Lisa, Liz, and Pat.  We took an easy pace, as we didn’t have a choice but to stick together since Pat was the only one familiar with the course, and this is one course that if you don’t know your way, you will get lost for sure!  So, thank you to Pat once again for agreeing to run with us this morning.
I should mention that we’ve also got several of our Nerds in the Rocky Raccoon 100 today.  I’m keeping up on their status via Twitter and they all seem to be doing great.  The latest is several have made the 35 mile mark and they’re doing good.  I hope they all run it sub-24!  Rock on, guys.
Here’s to a good training week.  I’m not sure I’ll taper much since I’m only running a 10M race.  I think I’ll keep it a normal training week for now.  If I go “easy” at any point, it’ll be Thursday and Friday.  
My prediction: I have to honestly say that it depends on the condition of the trails.  If it’s muddy, ugh…well, still sub-2.  If it’s relatively dry, then I still say sub-2 but I don’t know how sub, really.  Can I make my bet with the guys?  It’d be tough, but I’ll be close if not (perhaps something like 1:45:00).  We’ll just have to wait and see.

Anybody know how to make a treadmill go longer than one hour? They always seem to go into “Cool down” mode at the one-hour mark. So even if I increase the speed and incline, after one minute it goes back down to a roughly 4.5 speed and 0 incline. Surely there must be a way to run on a treadmill for 2 or more hours, no?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Stay strong,
Mircea